Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will share the front row for the third consecutive IndyCar Series race on a road/street course.
Castroneves won his 26th career PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award during qualifying for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway with a best lap of 1 minute, 16.9027 seconds, 107.809 mph on the 12-turn, 2.30 mile circuit. Briscoe was second just .0158 of a second behind.
The duo also shared the front row at Mid-Ohio with Castroneves on the pole and at Edmonton with Briscoe on the pole.
Will Power and Tony Kanaan will start in Row 2 for the 80-lap race, while Scott Dixon, who holds a 78-point lead over Castroneves in the championship, and Oriol Servia will start in Row 3.
Also on Aug. 23, Raphael Matos took a one-point lead in the Firestone Indy Lights championship with a second-place finish in the Carneros 100. Richard Antinucci, who had been the leader, finished third.
The two will battle again Aug. 24 in the Valley of the Moon 100, the penultimate race of the season.
Franck Perera led all 30 laps of the Carneros 100 from the pole to claim his first Firestone Indy Lights victory, becoming the record-setting eighth driver to win a race this season.
Men’s Wearhouse has signed on as sponsor of the No. 25 Roth Racing entry for the final three races of the season.
GEORGE ZIMMER (Founder & CEO, Men’s Wearhouse): “Men's Wearhouse is proud to partner with Roth Racing Limited and sponsor the No. 25 car. Marty Roth began his racing career in the 1970s, and that is when Men's Wearhouse first began helping men like the way they look. This year, Men's Wearhouse is celebrating our 35th anniversary, and we're thrilled to reach that milestone and race well beyond it with the help of Marty and the great team at Roth Racing. We thank all of our customers for our success over the past 35 years and look forward to serving them for years to come. I guarantee it.”
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:
This is Franck Perera’s first career victory in Firestone Indy Lights. He wins in his eighth career start. This is the third victory for Guthrie Racing. Its other two victories came with Raphael Matos at St. Petersburg in 2006. Perera becomes the record-setting eighth driver to win a race this season. Other winners include Dillon Battistini, Matos, Richard Antinucci, J.R. Hildebrand, Bobby Wilson, Ana Beatriz and James Davison. Matos finished second, his seventh top-five finish of the season. Matos takes over the points lead by one point over Antinucci. Six drivers remain eligible for the Firestone Firehawk Cup. They are Matos, Antinucci, Ana Beatriz, J.R. Hildebrand, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Dillon Battistini. Antinucci finished third, his ninth top-five finish of the season. J.R. Hildebrand finished fourth, his seventh top-five finish of the season. Logan Gomez finished fifth, his third top-five finish of the season. Perera drew an “8” out of a bag in Victory Lane to determine how many cars will be inverted for the start of Sunday’s Valley of the Moon 100. That means he will start eighth and Pablo Donoso, who finished eighth, will start first. ***
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:
FRANCK PERERA (CJ Consulting Guthrie Racing, first): “It’s an amazing weekend. It was a new track again, and we were really good. We tried to catch Raphael (Matos) in the qualifying. He tested here last weekend, so he had a better chance of being good than us, so it’s good that we got the pole. We had a good race. The car was consistent, we didn’t have to push it 100 percent. It was good to have a race like that.”
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, second): “It was a good race. We’re trying to maximize the points as much as we can this weekend. It’s important that we come out of this weekend with a real chance at the championship. We’re leading the championship by one point, so it’s a good thing Richard (Antinucci) finished behind me. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough for (Franck) Perera, but it was a good race and we’ll make improvements for tomorrow.”
RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): “We had that great start, but unfortunately I had to give way. Rules are rules. I was just following my line and my row (on the start). We had a better start than the other line with (Raphael) Matos on the front row. I had to let him by, so I let him by. I dropped one spot at the end of Lap 1, in a weird way, and let him by. We had good speed at the end. I think we’re there, and we’ll make improvements for Sunday.”
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 25 Allied Building Products, fourth): “It went well. We definitely made some gains in the car. Particularly at the beginning of the race we definitely had the speed of the guys up front. And then as we started getting into the race, the front tires just started going off, so that was affecting me on the brakes. Particularly in some of the slower corners, I was having a tough time keeping up. I fell into the trap of either you’re overdriving it a little bit or you’re just a little bit slow. That was a fine line that I crossed over a little bit too far a couple of times that allowed (Logan) Gomez to catch back up a little bit. But we’ll make a couple of changes here, and I think we’ll have a really good run tomorrow.”
LOGAN GOMEZ (No. 23 IZOD Menards Guthrie Racing, fifth): “We qualified fourth, which is a season best for Guthrie Racing. We’ve got IZOD on the car for this race, so I think it’s some good luck. It was good to qualify fourth, we’ve just got to stay up there. I ran into some trouble with another competitor who passed before the green flag. You can’t do much once they’re by you, and then you’ve got to pass them. I ended up making a pass on track for fifth again. It was just a tough race. We’ll see where the inversion goes and see where we’ll be starting tomorrow. There wasn’t much passing in the race so maybe we can start up front.”
PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
· Helio Castroneves wins his third PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award of the season and his series-leading 26th career pole. He also won the pole this season at Nashville and Mid-Ohio and started from the pole based on points at Motegi.
· Ryan Briscoe qualified second, his fifth front row start of the season.
· Castroneves and Briscoe qualified 1-2 for the third consecutive race on a road/street course. Castroneves won the pole at Mid-Ohio, while Briscoe won the pole at Edmonton.
· This is the sixth time this season that teammates will start 1-2, tying the IndyCar Series record set in 2005. In addition to the three 1-2 starts by Castroneves and Briscoe this season, Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon started 1-2 twice and Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti started 1-2 once.
· This is the 39th time in IndyCar Series history that teammates will start 1-2.
· Castroneves and Briscoe also shared the front row at Infineon in 2005 when Briscoe won the pole with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Castroneves qualified second.
· Will Power qualified third, his fourth top-five start of the season.
· Scott Dixon qualified fifth, his 13th consecutive top-10 start, the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series.
· Oriol Servia qualified sixth. He has qualified eighth or better at every road/street course race this season.
· Justin Wilson qualified seventh, the first time this season he has not participated in the Firestone Fast Six.
· Danica Patrick qualified ninth, her first top-10 start on a road/street course this season.
· Mario Dominguez qualified a season-best 11th. His previous best was 16th at Mid-Ohio.
PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified first): “The guys did an incredible job moving past the fire, turning the page and moving forward. If there is a team that can rebound, it’s Team Penske. They proved it today. We’re happy with every accomplishment that we’ve made this weekend. Starting on the front row is big for us. We’re going to continue working hard tomorrow and hopefully have a good finish.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): “It’s been pretty clear we have really fast cars on the road courses. I think apart from St. Petersburg, we’ve had the front row every time. It’s been really good. Also, between Helio (Castroneves) and myself, we really push each other a lot, too. And that’s a big bonus, having two really fast cars on these tracks. We compare the data after every session, and I’ll pick up a bit where he’s strong and he’ll pick up a bit where I’m strong, and we just try to put it all together, so I think that really helps too. It’s great to have Team Penske sweep the front row again.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, third): “It’s good. We carried it through. We’ve sort of been there all weekend in the top three. We’re happy about that. I think I could have done a better job in that last run, but it does feel good. They’re very long races. We know it’s a lot about strategy. A lot of yellows fall in this race. We’re just happy we’ve got two cars up there. We’re doing well.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, fourth): “We were one change behind in (the Firestone Fast Six). We tried everything, and as a team we’ve come a long way. We’ve been struggling on the road courses, so I’m glad to see we’re in the top four. (At Infineon) you don’t want to start worse than the second row.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): “I think we’re probably disappointed with our qualifying. The car was fairly decent, and then on that last qualifying run, we tried to lower the car a lot to see if we were just missing, and every time I tried to touch the brakes I was locking them up. And we couldn’t even get within eight-tenths (of a second) of our last run. It was worth a try. I think we would have only been one spot better – maybe in fourth. We just didn’t have enough for what those two Penske cars had. We always seem to race a little bit better, and we’re definitely happy with where we’re at. We just have to make sure we can follow up with some points tomorrow.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, sixth): “We had a great first two sessions, and I was really happy with the car. But at the end, we made a mistake with the pressures and the car was sliding all over, plus the track got hotter and I just couldn't stay close. I think we had a chance to put in a good lap at the end, at least to beat Scott (Dixon), but I waited a little too long to get a gap and I didn't get to make a run. Just a terrible session. But I'm happy that the car was good in the first two sessions and we're in good position for the race.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, seventh): “I’m disappointed that we didn’t make the Firestone Fast Six for the first time this season. I thought we had the potential. The McDonald’s car was quick but just a little difficult to drive. It was right on the edge all the way around, so we couldn’t quite put a lap together. I think we have the performance to gain some spots, but I don’t think this track lends itself to overtaking. We’ll just have to have a smart race, stay out of trouble and keep picking them off one at a time. Maybe we can overtake, but it’s only if somebody makes a mistake. We’ve seen a lot of people go off around here. It’s a tough track. The better your car is the more fuel you can save and the more chance you have of passing people in the pit s. We just need to make sure the car is good tomorrow morning in the warm-up.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, eighth): “We’re not where we want to be, because I think anything other than being in the Firestone Fast Six is a disappointment, but the guys did a great job on the car and I think we can race from here tomorrow. The engineering staff turned a 14th-place car into an eighth-place one overnight, and we had something for the rest of the field until we got to the slow-speed sections of the track. We were as fast as anyone in the first half of the lap, and I think we could have caused some trouble. But we just didn’t have the whole package today. We’ll work on it some more and get it tomorrow.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, ninth): “It was great that the Motorola car was able to make it into the fast 12. I can’t believe how close the times were. Of course I wish that we would have been able to make it into the Firestone Fast Six, but we are headed in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep the car up front and out of trouble throughout the race.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster/Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 10th): “I had my hands full in qualifying today. The car was on the edge of grip at both ends. We made one little change and we completely tipped the car over from understeer to oversteer. It wasn't our best effort today, and we would be happier if we were starting a bit higher on the grid. The Blockbuster/STAR WARS: THE CLONE YEARS race car is very good, though, so we're confident heading into tomorrow.”
SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
9:40-10:15 a.m. IndyCar Series warm-up11 a.m. Valley of the Moon 100 pre-race11:30 a.m. Valley of the Moon 100 (30 laps/69 miles)1:05 p.m. PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County pre-race2:30 p.m. PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County (80 laps/184.24 miles)
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader Aug. 23-24 at Infineon Raceway. The races will air at 5 p.m. Aug. 28 on ESPN2.